The monster miners are still looking for their invitation to get bigger in the agricultural business, which means buying potash producers. PotashCorp ( POT , quote ) itself is still a target, which is one reason it is hunting acquisitions of its own.
POT has filed to expand its stake in rival fertilizer manufacturer Israel Chemicals ( ISCHY , quote ) to a full 25% from about 14% today.
At today's prices, that 11% buy would represent around $1.4 billion, which cash-rich POT can definitely afford. After all, one of the goals here is to put some of the company's $15 billion in assets to work.
While POT could theoretically buy ISCHY outright, its de facto partner in the company -- Tel Aviv conglomerate Israel Corp. ( IRLCF , quote ) -- is unlikely to give up its 50% controlling stake without a fight.
The two companies could happily coexist as parents, and in the meantime the added heft would make POT itself a little less appetizing to BHP Billiton ( BHP , quote ) or one of its rivals.
A note of scale: POT is currently worth about $33 billion. BHP is five times as large in market cap terms, so could have easily absorbed even a giant in the potash space several times over.
If not for the Canadian government's veto, POT would be a BHP subsidiary by now.
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